Of course, that conclusion is basically redundant to anyone with a Marxist analysis of the state, but it is still worth tracking the changing nature of that repression.
I don’t know, for example, if it as blatant in Germany today as it was in the 60s and 70s, when some of my friends had their mail regularly opened before it reached their mail box, or who lived with the constant companionship of secret service vans on their street, but recent event suggest that this is certainly the direction it is heading.
In some ways, you really have to admire the German method. Not for us the sly, secretive repressed reports (well, I’m sure they do exist – I just haven’t seen them yet). The main German secret police agency – the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (“Office for the Protection of the Constitution”) – releases its yearly report into “activity that endangers the Constitution” to the public eye.While the reports are largely concerned with “muslim terrorism” and the activities of the bonehead far-right, it also has an entire chapter dedicated to "linksextremismus" (leftist extremism).
The most recent reports are available for download (in German) here:2006, 2007, 2008
Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of these reports is that they clearly indicate that the German state is watching not only the various small revolutionary organisations, but dedicates much of its time to stalking the activities of Germany’s fourth-largest political party – Die Linke. The recent rise of a new Left in Germany (and incorporating much of the reformed Old Left) has clearly unsettled the German powers-that-be (and a quick perusal of Die Linke’s coverage in the mainstream media reinforces the idea).
Leading members of the centre-right Christian Democrats and Christian Social Union parties have repeatedly described the left-wing Die Linke – currently polling at 12 percent – as a “threat to the German constitution”, and Die Linke members in Bundestag have been excluded from the committee overseeing the Verfassungsschutz' activities.
Die Linke are also under observation by the several Landesbehörden für Verfassungsschutz (the State versions of the federal Verfassungsschutz) – Lower Saxony, Hesse, Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria. Saarland apparently ceased their surveillance in 2008. And while Die Linke as a whole is not being watched in the East – perhaps because they are in power in some states there – the internal tendency the "Communist Platform" is under observation in at least three Eastern states.
There are also individual cases that reinforce the rule:
- In 2008, a former Die Linke Bundestag member, Bodo Ramelow, actually put his surveillance to the test, with a court finding that it was illegal.
- Jannine Menger-Hamilton, the german-born daughter of a former Scots soldier and an Italian mother, and now married to a German, has been denied German citizenship, despite having lived her entire life, studied, and worked, in Germany. The reason – the Verfassungsschutz (after making her wait three years for a decision) has deemed her “not suitable” for a passport because she acts as a spokesperson for Die Linke. The state where Menger-Hamilton lives – Lower Saxony – is also currently preparing laws which would ban a wide range of protests, including many union demonstrations.
- In January, secret police raided the offices of a number of antifascist groups in Dresden and Berlin, including Die Linke’s office in Dresden, confiscating leaflets, posters and a computer, and shutting down the website of antifascist organisation Dresden Nazifrei! The groups were organising a counterdemonstration to an annual neoNazi march scheduled for February 13 in Dresden. In 2009, more than 6000 police gave the fascists an effective guard of honour while they paraded through the city – the largest fascist march in Europe in recent years.
- 76 Die Linke members of the Bundestag – the entire delegation – were evicted from the Bundestag on February 26, when they protested Germany’s involvement in the Afghanistan war.
Ironically, while the Right and the Centre in Germany – and their lackies in the media – criticise Die Linke for their supposed links to the Stasi – the repressive secret police of the former East Germany – it is the behaviour of the state intelligence and police services, and their political masters in the CDU, CSU and SPD, that bears the most resemblance to the antidemocratic and repressive practices that so marred attempts to build socialism in the DDR.
State repression is alive and well in Germany, and don’t you doubt it.